Black Walnut Folk Club has been running for 16 years and is still going strong. It is well known to regulars that if you don’t arrive early to sign up for the open stage the spots will all be taken. The evening starts at 8:00 pm with a half hour feature set (Terry Golletz on May 21) before moving to the open stage. Performers plug in and play two songs each until the evening wraps up around 11:30. Volunteers transform the community centre gymnasium into stage area and candle lit clusters of tables for listeners. The MC for the evening and sound people (one at the board, one to help adjust microphones) are efficient at keeping the momentum going so there is minimal “dead air” between sets.
Founded in 1994 by Robin Bruce Ward and Annie M, the Black Walnut started out in the Waterloo Regional Arts Council office and has had several homes over the years. It currently meets the third Friday of every month from September to June at the Mill Courtland Community Centre (home base since 2000).
Hosting responsibilities are shared by: Dan & Ellen Hergott, Jim Galway, David Maranta, Rancy Ouilette, Kate Henshaw, Jakki Annerino & Wayne Cheater.
The evening I visited, one of the performers has only lived in Waterloo for a month and felt a folk club open stage would be a good way to connect to her new neighbourhood. I don’t think she was disappointed – at the break she was swamped with invitations and suggestions of where else she could play.
If you can’t make it to the next Black Walnut on June 18th then check their website in September for the next open stage night.
[Black Walnut Folk Club, 216 Mill Street, Kitchener, 3rd Friday, Sept-June, 8pm -midnight]